Friday, March 27, 2015

Back Story Doesn't Have To Be Depressing

I don't know if it is the phase of the moon, the weather or something in the food writers are eating lately, but I have to say, but the stories I have been reading lately have been pushing the boundaries of sheer depressing plots. It isn't the main plot that is really the issue, although there are impacts on that, it is the back story of each of the characters.

It seems that, in an effort to create a real conflict and to create real drama in the characters, authors are going to such extremes that back stories are sounding like either true crime novels or those case stories we hear about in social work. It is as if the authors feel, the more the better. Instead of having the hero's dad just being someone who took life seriously, we have now moved to that dad being not just serious about life, but abusive to the kids, an alcoholic, and heck, let's throw in suicidal, or even better, the last three generations have been suicidal. Arrrggghhhh!!!!

The problem with this approach is the impact on the plot. It becomes a distraction. It becomes a character that needs equal representation in the story. In the case of a romance, not only do the characters have to work through their relationship with one another to that happily ever after, they now have to contend with that outside conflict you added plus all of the personal baggage each of the characters have. This is really going to turn into a counseling session from hell. In fact, these two won't even be able to deal with the relationship because of all the back story. But remember, the main story arc is that romance. It is that central story line. Add in all of that other "stuff" makes the book cumbersome, tiring and frankly, something readers will not continue reading.

It is OK to keep things simple. It is that simplicity that makes the characters people the readers can relate to. Going over-board simply makes your characters look ridiculous.

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